Monday, 15 August 2016

Family Legal Solutions

It's fairly straight forward to identify with typical consumer disputes that are covered by the contract disputes section of our Family Legal Solutions policy. 

The sort of claims examples that we often provide involve buying goods or services that prove to be unsatisfactory.  

When this happens it's always to hoped that the supplier will put things right but when that doesn't happen we can arrange mediation between the parties or pursue a claim for damages.

 I came across some case histories that are a bit different on Nearly Legal's website. Here's a link to their account of three cases that they have posted under the heading "Landlords behaving badly". 

While you may have read past blogs from me about the help we give to landlords under our Landlords' Legal Solutions policy when tenants behave badly, here the boot is clearly on the other foot.

Not all Family Legal Expenses products protect tenants but as more and more people rely on Assured Shorthold Tenancies in the private rented sector this could be a serious gap in their LEI policy cover. Make sure your home contents customers who rent their home tick in to get our Family Legal Solutions policy.  

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Not all ATE policies are created equal

After the Event policies may appear to provide identical cover but, in these turbulent times for the market, solicitors should be giving just as much scrutiny to the company behind the policy, argues Paul Hurley, Director and Head of ATE at ARAG Legal.

Perhaps the alarm bells should have been ringing before AU Insurance Services went into administration, last quarter. An uninspiring web presence and the virtual invisibility of company and employees on LinkedIn should not necessarily be cause for concern, but these have been challenging times for after the event insurance providers.

The combination of the LASPO legislation, increases in regulation and insurance premium tax and, in some segments, defendants who challenge policies and premiums as a matter of course has made things particularly difficult for smaller, niche businesses with most or all of their eggs in the ATE insurance basket.

Whatever pushed AU Insurance Services into administration, it wasn’t the first small ATE provider to fail, and it won’t be the last. But bigger firms could also be finding the current climate difficult, so it is essential for solicitors to know precisely who they are dealing with and how securely the policy that they offer to clients is securely underwritten.

As in so many markets, headline prices may grab the attention, but the true cost of a policy could be far greater, especially if a provider should fail. If a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

There are several questions that solicitors can ask to help satisfy themselves that they are minimising the risk, not just for the client but also for their own firm.
Who, for example, is underwriting the ATE policy and are they based in the UK or offshore, in sunnier, cheaper and significantly less regulated insurance markets?

Ratings agencies, such as AM Best and Standard & Poors, provide a good indication of the financial strength and security of the insurer behind the cover, so solicitors should be checking that the policies they are issuing to clients are backed by an insurer with an A (strong) or even AA (very strong) rating.

Whether the insurance provider that a solicitor deals with is an insurer, broker or some other type of intermediary, a policy that is widely used and has been thoroughly tested in the courts is likely to present fewer headaches for the firm and its clients.

It can be difficult for clients to select a law firm when they need a solicitor, but they are invariably best served by one that is experienced, financially secure and properly regulated. The same should also be true of their ATE provider.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Crisis Communication - such a good idea that we are extending available services...

We have been providing Crisis Communication costs to our business policyholders for around four years and as the service is all about publicity we think it deserves some! 
We are introducing a new consultancy-based extension to the current service offering and have updated how we describe the service to include reference to dealing with exposure on social media which has become a hot topic.

The Crisis Communication service is provided by professional public relations executives from our preferred PR firm - an independent, international PR agency, headquartered in London. We have selected the firm for its vast experience and discretion in handling sensitive matters.

Initially we trialled Crisis Communication for some key accounts who specialise in the care industry – residential care homes and child care day nurseries.  Such businesses work in pressured environments and are vulnerable to criticism which often finds its way into the public domain, resulting in unbalanced or exaggerated reporting. 
Callers using the service were impressed with the help they received to communicate with the media positively and reported really good outcomes following involvement by our appointed PR expert. At a time of horrible stress it was good to have someone on their side to prepare statements and deal with reaction for them. We were convinced that the service would be valuable more generally and it was rolled out as part of a product relaunch to all of our business policyholders.

More about Crisis communication


·           Policyholders have free 24/7 access to the Crisis Communication assistance helpline which allows access to a top PR professional who can give advice about key steps required to manage negative publicity about the business.

·           In response to a number of callers wishing to engage PR help who were concerned about an  event that may lead to adverse media attention, a new pre-publication consultancy service is available. This is available at the Insured's own expense.

·           Policyholders whose business has been exposed to adverse media (or social media) publicity are insured for to £10,000 under the terms of their ARAG Essential or Absolute Business Legal policy.

The actions required will depend on what has happened to lead to the publicity however professional help could be available to draft a media statement or press release, prepare communication for business customers, staff or suppliers, compose a telephone or website script and/or or social media messaging.
Support and representation can be arranged if the insured attends an event at which media will be reporting and to manage interaction with media outlets.